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De Villa, Tory call on Ford government to extend Toronto's lockdown at least 2 weeks

Last Updated Feb 17, 2021 at 6:31 pm EST

Toronto’s top doctor wants the City’s lockdown and stay-at-home measures extended at least another 14 days, something mayor John Tory strongly supports.

During the City’s latest COVID-19 update, Dr. Eileen de Villa said she has “never been more worried about the future than I am today.”

“A week ago, there were 33 confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants in Toronto. Today, we have 56. In fact, there are more than five times that number being confirmed in the labs right now. 283 cases in Toronto have been screened of variants of concern,” she said.

“The variants of concern mean we face a deceptively dangerous situation. Right now, the case count numbers don’t look so bad. They don’t sound bad. But today’s variant count is the tip of an iceberg.”

The medical officers of health for Toronto and Peel Region made the request to delay loosening restrictions in their regions for at least two weeks in a letter to Ontario’s chief medical officer that was released Wednesday.

See the letter below.

De Villa says by the time the case counts are big enough to “shock us,” it will be too late. She also provided data on variants from around the globe, citing the importance and need of lockdown measures now, more than ever.

“In Germany today, the minister of health said the proportion of the B.1.1.7 variant there rose from just under 6 percent to more than 22 percent in two weeks and that the proportion of cases with the variant are doubling every week,” Dr. de Villa continued.

“Newfoundland and Labrador, which has seen a total of just over 700 cases throughout the entire pandemic, suddenly has almost 300 cases on its hands linked to the U.K. variant.”

She says health officials now know that the U.K. variant began spreading last September but went unidentified.

“By mid-December, they skyrocketed to peak about 50,000 per day. That is what happens with exponential growth and exponential growth is what Toronto faces.”

Peel’s top doctor, Lawrence Loh, said that while cases have dropped, maintaining current restrictions for longer would permit authorities to get a better sense of larger trends.

“Holding the status quo for just one incubation period of 14 days will allow us to better see where the various trends go and review any impact that school reopening might have on community contacts and transmission,” he told reporters Wednesday.

Loh says if the province moves Peel back into the framework, it must bolster protections for workers.

Ontario is set to lift the stay-home order for Peel, Toronto, York Region, and North Bay next week as it moves the regions back into its pandemic restrictions structure.

Students inside the GTA – such as Toronto, York, and Peel Regions – returned for in-person learning on Tuesday.

Ontario has said it will consult with medical officers of health in each region before deciding where a community will placed in the province’s tiered framework.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said the government has received preliminary data on the regions from the province’s top doctor and will receive a further report and recommendations from him on Thursday.

No decisions have been made regarding whether the hot spots will remain under their current lockdown, she said.

“That’s going to be determined after a review of the evidence,” she said.